Cargo (2017)

  • Director: Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howlingcargo
  • Writer: Yolanda Ramke
  • Main Cast: Martin Freeman, Simone Landers, Anthony Hayes

‘Time is there. Every second. And we are going to make it count.’

In the aftermath of a viral outbreak (the word ‘zombie’ isn’t actually mentioned in the film), a father goes searching in the Australian outbreak for someone who can help him and his baby daughter when he becomes infected, and has 48 hours before the virus takes hold.

A beautifully shot, extremely heartfelt film. The outback setting is an interesting one for a zombie movie – so often a claustrophobic genre, the vastness of the scenery sets a rather different tone to your typical Z-flick.

I must admit that I have quite a ‘thing’ for Martin Freeman, so a Zombie film starring him was always going to be a must-watch for me. I’m loving his recent forays into horror, with this and Ghost Stories. Now, my bias aside, he really is very good in this. There’s a subtlety to his performance, and his interactions with the rest of the cast (particularly with Simone Landers) feel natural and poignant. Even though I was already a fan, I was impressed!

There’s intertwining messages about family, hope, tradition, the environment and aboriginal culture that make for a rich story, even though the central premise is quite straightforward. The ending is emotional, heart-wrenching but hopeful, and true to the essence of the film. Brilliant work from these directors, particularly considering it’s their first feature.

The Funhouse Massacre (2015)

  • Director: Andy Palmerfunhouse massacre
  • Writer: Ben Begley
  • Main Cast: Scottie Thompson, Ben Begley, Jere Burns

Six psychopathic killers escape from a secret secure facility, and take over a Horror Funhouse at Halloween. Carnage ensues!

This is not a complicated film – caricature psychos kill a whole bunch of people in nasty ways. There isn’t a lot of character development here, but it really isn’t needed. I enjoyed the cartoonish nature of the killers – it could make a fun but f***ed up comic book series! There’s an unnecessary attempt at a plot twist towards the end, which really didn’t add anything to the story.

Definitely a comedy-horror, and the humour is hit and miss, but there were a few good giggles to be had. It is much more successful as a colourful gore-fest, and is certainly not for the squeamish. A fun watch if you’re in the mood for some mindless, bloody cinematic violence. Check out my Top Five Comedy-Horror List for some more comedy-horrors suggestions.

The Rezort (2015)

  • Director: Steve Barkerthe rezort
  • Writer: Paul Gerstenberger
  • Main Cast: Dougray Scott, Jessica De Gouw, Martin McCann

‘If we can treat the dead like meat, who’s to say the living won’t be next?’

In a world that has managed to survive a mass zombie outbreak, a luxury island – The Rezort – offers wealthy guests the opportunity to hunt the last existing zombies for sport. The safari is strictly controlled to ensure guests are in no real danger, until the security systems are brought down by a rogue virus and the hunters once again become the hunted.

This is an interesting twist on the zombie genre. What would humanity do after a mass outbreak, even if we won? Cash in on the anger and unresolved issues, of course! This is very much Jurassic Park with zombies. I presume the number of similarities between the two films was purposefully done, as an homage, rather than a clumsy rip off.

I’m really surprised this film didn’t get more attention on release. It clearly had a considerable budget behind it, good special effects and zombie make up, an attention grabbing plot and a pretty decent cast. It also follows the tradition of Romero, using zombie movies as a method of social commentary, with clear statements on the divide between rich and poor, and the dire treatment of refugees by those in power.

I did find there were some slightly challenging gender dynamics. When a hoard of zombies first attacks the group, then men leap into action with their guns, while the two women run off – holding hands – to hide. Further, none of the male characters seem to see anything wrong with the treatment of the zombies, while the women are tormented and emotional at their undead plight.

In terms of pure enjoyment, I much preferred the Korean zombie film Train to Busan, which I watched a day earlier. However, The Rezort is certainly an interesting film and definitely one for zombie aficionados to check out.

Train to Busan (2016)

  • Director: Sang-ho Yeontrain to busan
  • Writer: Joo-Suk Park, Sang-ho Yeon
  • Main Cast: Yoo Gong, Su-an Kim, Yu-mi Jung

‘I’ll take you to Mum, no matter what’

A father and his young daughter board a train bound for Busan, unaware that a zombie outbreak is taking hold of the hometown they’re departing. Unfortunately, one of the infected boards the train at the last moment and chaos ensues. The belief that Busan has been secured against the outbreak leads the survivors to fight to reach their destination, at all costs.

View the trailer here

This is a very well written Korean Zombie film, with a cast of strong characters who I really came to care about (or, in one case, loath with a passion – you’ll know who I mean if you watch it!). The actress playing the little girl Soo-an is a particularly impressive young actress.

The plot is fast paced, and the tension doesn’t really let up from the moment the characters board the train.  The scenes aboard the train are wonderfully claustrophobic, while some of the scenes set outside are truly spectacular. The special effects use on the zombies are striking, and there’s a slightly unusual take on zombie characteristics – these zombies don’t just run, they seem to move with supernatural speed.

An absolute must watch for zombie fans!

Hell House LLC

  • Director: Stephen Cognettihell house llc
  • Writer: Stephen Cognetti
  • Main Cast: Ryan Jennifer, Gore Abrams, Jared Hacker

‘We had no business being here’

A mockumentary, seeking to uncover exactly what happened when a tragedy at a haunted house attraction resulted in the deaths of 15 people. Eyewitness reports and visitor videos from that night had not shed much light on the mystery, but then a survivor comes forward with footage from the days preceding the tragedy – documenting the five organisers getting ready for opening night, in the midst increasingly strange happenings.

I found most of the main five characters very likeable, which does help draw you in to the story. That said, the fact they stay in the house after some of the insane things they witness kind of makes me think they deserve whatever is coming to them!

Found footage haunted house movies are a dime a dozen, and this isn’t one of the very best – but it is definitely worth a watch. The meta twist of the haunted house in question being set up as a novelty haunted house attraction is fun, and there are plenty of strong and well executed jump scares.

Double Bill: Creep and Creep 2

Creep (2014)creep

  • Director: Patrick Brice
  • Writer: Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass
  • Main Cast: Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass

‘I love wolves, because they love deeply, but they don’t know how to express it, and they’re often very violent and, quite frankly, murder the things that they love’

A videographer, Aaron, answers a craigslist call for a well paid one day job up in the mountains. When he arrives, it becomes clear this will not be a straightforward job and his client Josef is a very curious character. Is Josef simply a bit quirky and creepy, or is he deranged?

Creep 2 (2017)creep 2

  • Director: Patrick Brice
  • Writer: Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass
  • Main Cast: Mark Duplass and Desiree Akhaven

‘What am I doing trying to make the films I used to make? What if I made a documentary? And this is where you come in.’

Sara makes documentaries about society’s outcasts, and cannot resist travelling into the forest to meet a man who claims to be a serial killer. As you do. If he’s telling the truth, the resulting report will be her pièce de résistance…but at what cost?!

Creep was such a treat! I screamed, swore and squeaked repeatedly. There was a monologue right at the end of the film that – I’m not ashamed to admit it – made me look behind myself to check no-one was there! Mark Duplass is what really elevates this movie: he manages to be sweet, scary, charming, attractive and creepy all at once – no easy task. I look forward to seeing what he, and the Director Patrick Brice, will do in the future.

I did wonder how on earth Creep 2 could live up to the first film. Cleverly, the team didn’t just try to make the same film again, but approached the main character from a different angle. I actually found the film really sweet, bordering on romantic – both main characters are lying their arses off, but there seems to be a genuine kinship.

There is apparently a Creep 3 in the pipeline. I can’t wait!

The Babysitter (2017)

  • Director: McGthebabysitter
  • Writer: Brian Duffield
  • Cast: Judah Lewis, Samara Weaving, Bella Thorne

‘Things get messy when you make a deal with the devil’

Cole is maybe a little too old for a babysitter, but he’s willing to make an exception when it’s someone as hot and fun as his babysitter Bee. Convinced by his friend to stay up past his bedtime to spy on Bee, he gets a lot more than he bargained for – the object of his affection is leading murderous satanic cult, from his front room. Cole will have to find all his courage if he is to survive Bee and her friends, and reveal their dark secrets.

This film was so much fun! A very easy-to-watch comedy-horror with some inventive death scenes, a lot of humour and a number of charming (albeit, mostly homicidal) characters. Well worth a watch when you fancy something light. Would make a great double bill with 68 Kill!